Ariza v. Loomis Armored US, LLC, Case No. 3:13–cv–00419–JWD–SCR

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
Citation132 F.Supp.3d 775
Docket NumberCase No. 3:13–cv–00419–JWD–SCR
Parties Liza C. Ariza, Plaintiff, v. Loomis Armored US, LLC, Defendant.
Decision Date23 September 2015

132 F.Supp.3d 775

Liza C. Ariza, Plaintiff,
Loomis Armored US, LLC, Defendant.

Case No. 3:13–cv–00419–JWD–SCR

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana.

Signed September 23, 2015

132 F.Supp.3d 776

Paul F. Bell, Bell Law Firm, LLC, Baton Rouge, LA, for Plaintiff.

Clare W. Trinchard, James L. Trinchard, Trinchard & Trinchard, New Orleans, LA, for Defendant.




Before the Court are Defendant Loomis Armored US, LLC's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("MSJ"), (Doc. 51); Plaintiff's Opposition Memorandum to Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's First Opposition"), (Doc. 54); and three copies of the same motion—Defendant's Reply Memorandum to Plaintiff's Opposition Memorandum to Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Defendant's Reply Memorandum"), (Doc. 58, 60, and 63). Three others touch upon the arguments discussed therein: Defendant's Proposed Memorandum in Support of Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental memorandum in Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Filed by Defendant Loomis Armored US, LLC to Dismiss Plaintiff's Claims Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for Failure to Set Forth a Prima Facie Case That She has a Disabling Condition of Epilepsy and/or Seizures [Doc. # 51] ("Defendant's Proposed Memorandum"), (Doc. 110); Liza Ariza's Opposition Memorandum to Defendant's Supplemental Memorandum to its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's Second Opposition"), (Doc. 111); and Defendant's Proposed Reply Memorandum to Plaintiff's Opposition to Loomis's Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment to Dismiss Plaintiff's Claim Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("Defendant's

132 F.Supp.3d 777

Second Reply"), (Doc. 114). In the MSJ, as supported by its other related filings, Loomis Armored US, LLC ("Loomis" or "Defendant"), has moved for summary judgment against Ms. Liza C. Ariza ("Ariza" or "Plaintiff"), a former employee who has sued Loomis for discrimination on the basis of a specific disability: a type of chronic seizure disorder, possibly embraced in full by the clinical term "epilepsy."

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56,1 Defendant's MSJ must fail primarily because Defendant has rested its motion on an incomplete construal of the disjunctive "definition of disability" set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008 ("ADA"). While a person qualifies as disabled if he or she suffers from a recognizable and verifiable impediment, the ADA does not constrict its definition so exactly. In fact, it encodes a third definition traceable to this act's ameliorative and expansive intent. Under this third possible denotation, Plaintiff does not need to prove a disability's existence or provide a record so attesting to qualify for its protection; instead, so long as Plaintiff can later show Defendant perceived her to be disabled and terminated her due to its belief regarding the ramifications of this disability, she is "disabled" within the ADA's broad parameters. As the evidence, construed in the nonmovant's favor, does not discount this third possibility as a matter of law, the complaint must, at present, survive. Notably and significantly, this result would follow even if every assertion that Defendant makes in the MSJ—an utter dearth of decisive proof of a disability's actuality in this case's factual record and an unbelievable Plaintiff and mother—is assumed to be incontrovertibly true.

Here, however, the factual evidence is not so crystal-clear. Rather, in advancing this unqualified assertion, Defendant obscures and exaggerates the manifold inconsistencies and omissions in Plaintiff's medical evidence. In particular, Defendant makes too much of two doctors' testimony in each and every filing, but these men's accounts are rife with discrepancies that may convince a jury to disregard their most recent—and movant-favoring—testimony. Viewing the record as a whole, then, as Rule 56 compels this Court to do, key material facts remain unsettled, and a reasonable factfinder may readily disbelieve much that Defendant now characterizes as irrefutable verities. In fact, more than a scintilla of evidence can still be assembled so as to create a pro-Plaintiff case as to, among other matters, Defendant's perception of Plaintiff's medical state and its good-faith efforts at accommodating Plaintiff's assumed disability. Thus, when the record is actually considered in full, with only unimpeachable and unquestionable evidence branded as fact, a victory for Plaintiff can still be reasonably envisioned.

As such, for these reasons, as more fully explicated below, the MSJ is DENIED.


A. Introduction

This case began with a complaint filed on June 28, 2013 ("Complaint"). (Doc. 1 at 1.) Once a driver and a vault supervisor for Defendant, Plaintiff sued Loomis, her last employer, for violations of five statutes: the ADA, 42 U.S. § 12101 et seq. , and Louisiana's state equivalent, LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 23:322 et seq. ; the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1992 ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601 –2654 ; and the Civil Rights Act of 1962, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. , and

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its own Louisiana parallel, LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 23:322. (Doc. 1 at 1) Her allegations distilled, the Complaint requests monetary and injunctive relief for "unlawful discrimination in employment" on the bases of "disability, sex, and retaliation." (Doc. 1 at 1–2.)

B. Brief History

Defendant hired Plaintiff on February 18, 2008, as a guard for one of its armored trucks. (Doc. 1 at 3; see also Doc. 51-1 at 3.) Allegedly, Defendant suffered a seizure in September 2008 during her shift. (Doc. 1 at 3.) Another supposedly struck her at home in December 2008. (Id. at 4.) After a Dr. Wissner told Plaintiff she could no longer work as a truck driver, Defendant reassigned Plaintiff, and she started working as a custodian within one of Defendant's money vaults. (Id. ) In 2009, Plaintiff again began working as a guard, a gun worn daily. (Id. ) Later, she obtained a full-time position as "a 17 Vault Supervisor." (Id. at 5.) On June 5, 2012, Plaintiff purportedly suffered a third seizure ("Incident"). (Id. at 6–7.)

After the Incident occurred, for which Plaintiff was hospitalized, she was examined by Dr. William W. Gladney, Jr. ("Dr. Gladney" or "Gladney"), a neurologist. (Id. at 7.) In June 2012, Dr. Galdney conducted a magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") scan and an electroencephalogram ("EEG") test; the results were normal. (Id. at 8.) Dr. Galdney also spoke, with Plaintiff's permission, to her primary care physician, Dr. Bruce Craig ("Craig" or "Dr. Craig"), "about her physical condition." (Id. ) On June 12, 2012, Dr. Gladney signed a release authorizing Plaintiff to recommence her employment as a vault supervisor. (Id. at 7.) Seemingly, in spite of this doctor's written approval, Ms. Susan Robinson, Plaintiff's supervisor, refused to sanction Plaintiff's return, the Parties disputing the precise motive. (Id. )

Eventually, Plaintiff sought leave under the FMLA. (Id. ) Defendant approved a leave period of June 5 through August 7, 2012. (Id. ) During this time, Plaintiff underwent sinus surgery and provided Defendant with a note from a new doctor, Dr. Charles F. Mitchell, stating that she could return to work. (Id. at 8–9.) Despite this authorization, at Defendant's insistence, Plaintiff went to see another doctor, Dr. Uzoma Moore ("Moore" or "Dr. Moore"). (Id. at 9.) Dr. Moore found Plaintiff "unable to perform essential functions"; though he wrote "No medical restrictions," he added, "Pending-Medial Hold" and "Needs Clearance," to his official report. (Id. ) Dr. Moore asked Plaintiff to have Dr. Craig forward "paperwork documenting his finding that she was able to return to work"; Plaintiff promised to do so. (Id. ) Dr. Craig confirmed Plaintiff's diagnosis during a phone conversation with Dr. Moore. (Id. )

Both due to Dr. Moore's examinations and Defendant's demand that she undergo more testing, Plaintiff did not return to work after August 27, 2012, the extended expiration date of her FMLA leave period. (Id. ) Throughout September 2012, Defendant repeatedly directed Plaintiff to Dr. Moore for further examination. (Doc. 54 at 7–13.) Frustrated by these demands, Plaintiff filled and filed an intake questionnaire for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against Defendant, and the EEOC mailed Defendant notice of Plaintiff's "unperfected charge of discrimination" on October 5, 2014. (Doc. 1 at 9.) Its receipt of this notice unestablished, Defendant terminated Plaintiff on October 11, 2012. (Doc. 54 at 12.) In this termination letter, Defendant cited Dr. Moore's refusal to release Plaintiff on the basis that her job required a gun be carried, this ability deemed "essential." (Id. at 12.)


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